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The

No-Nonsense,
Technician Class
License Study Guide
(for tests given after July 1, 2014)

Dan Romanchik KB6NU

Copyright 2014 Daniel M. Romanchik


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the
author.
revision 1.0, 4/30/2014

Table of Contents
What is amateur (ham) radio?

How do you get into amateur radio?

How much does it cost?

Where do I take the test?

Can I really learn how to be an amateur radio operator from a study guide like this?

How do I use this study guide?

Good luck and have fun

Electrical principles: math for electronics, electronic principles, Ohms Law 4


Electrical principles, units, and terms: current and voltage, conductors and insulators,
alternating and direct current, resistance, power
4
Ohms Law: formulas and usage

Electronic principles: DC power calculation

Math for electronics: conversion of electrical units, decibels, the metric system

Electronic principles and components: resistors, capacitors and capacitance, inductors


and inductance, batteries
10
Semiconductors: basic principles and applications of solid state devices, diodes and
transistors
11
Circuit diagrams, schematic symbols, component functions

12

Other components

15

Radio wave characteristics: properties of radio waves, propagation modes 16


Frequency, wavelength, the electromagnetic spectrum

16

Radio wave characteristics, how a radio signal travels, propagation modes

17

HF Propagation

19

Antennas and Feedlines

20

Antenna types, antenna polarization

20

Feedlines: types of feedline, connectors

21

Standing wave ratio and antenna measurements

22

Amateur Radio Signals

23

Modulation modes, signal bandwidth

23

Digital modes: packet, PSK31

24

Electrical safety: AC and DC power circuits, antenna installation, RF hazards 25


Power circuits and hazards: hazardous voltages, fuses and circuit breakers, grounding,
lightning protection, battery safety, electrical code compliance
25
Antenna safety: tower safety, erecting an antenna support, overhead power lines,
installing an antenna

27

RF hazards: radiation exposure, proximity to antennas, recognized safe power levels,


exposure to others, radiation types, duty cycle
28

Amateur radio practices and station set up

29

Station setup: connecting microphones, reducing unwanted emissions, power source,


connecting a computer, RF grounding, connecting digital equipment
29
Operating controls: tuning, use of Yilters, squelch function, AGC, repeater offset, memory
channels
31

Station equipment

32

Receivers, transmitters, transceivers, modulation, transverters, low power and weak


signal operation, transmit and receive ampliYiers
32
Common transmitter and receiver problems: symptoms of overload and overdrive,
distortion, causes of interference, interference and consumer electronics, part 15
devices, over and under modulation, RF feedback, off frequency signals, fading and
noise, problems with digital communications interfaces
33
Basic repair and testing: soldering; using basic test instruments; connecting a voltmeter,
ammeter, or ohmmeter
35

Operating Procedures

36

FM Operation

36

HF Operation

38

General Guidelines

39

Public service: emergency and non-emergency operations, applicability of FCC rules,


RACES and ARES, net and trafYic procedures, emergency restrictions
40
Amateur satellite operation, Doppler shift, basic orbits, operating protocols, control
operator, transmitter power considerations, satellite tracking, digital modes
42

Operating activities: radio direction Yinding, radio control, contests, linking over the
Internet, grid locators
43

FCC Rules, descriptions and deUinitions for the Amateur Radio Service, operator
and station license responsibilities
44
Amateur Radio Service: purpose and permissible use of the Amateur Radio Service,
operator/primary station license grant, where FCC rules are codiYied, basis and purpose
of FCC rules, meanings of basic terms used in FCC rules, interference, spectrum
management
44
Authorized frequencies: frequency allocations, ITU regions, emission modes, restricted
sub-bands, spectrum sharing, transmissions near band edges
46
Operator licensing: operator classes; sequential, special event, and vanity call sign
systems; international communications; reciprocal operation; station license and
licensee; places where the amateur service is regulated by the FCC; name and address
on FCC license database; license term; renewal; grace period
47
Authorized and prohibited transmission: communications with other countries, music,
exchange of information with other services, indecent language, compensation for use of
station, retransmission of other amateur signals, codes and ciphers, sale of equipment,
unidentiYied transmissions, broadcasting
49
Control operator and control types: control operator required, eligibility, designation of
control operator, privileges and duties, control point, local, automatic and remote
control, location of control operator
51
Station identiYication, repeaters, third party communications, club stations, FCC
inspection

About the Author

52

53

What is amateur (ham) radio?


Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a hobby enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of
Americans and millions around the world. They enjoy communicating with one another via
two-way radios and experimenting with antennas and electronic circuits.
All kinds of people are amateur radio operators, also known as hams. Hams are young,
old, men, women, boys, and girls. Kids as young as seven years old have gotten amateur
radio licenses, and many hams are active into their 80s and beyond. You never know who
you'll run into on the amateur radio bands: young and old, teachers and students, engineers
and scientists, doctors and nurses, mechanics and technicians, kings and entertainers.
For example, did you know that most of the astronauts sent up to the International Space
Station (ISS) in the last Yive to ten years have been licensed radio amateurs? They use the
amateur radio station on board the ISS to communicate with school groups all over the
world as they are Ylying over.

How do you get into amateur radio?


With just a little study, you can learn all you need to know to get a Technician Class license,
which is the license class designed for beginners. To get a Technician Class license, you
must take a test with 35 multiple-choice questions and answer 26 questions correctly. The
test covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electrical and electronics theory.
Knowing Morse Code is no longer required to get this license, nor any class of license.
Technician Class licensees have all amateur radio privileges above 30 MHz, including the
very popular 2-meter band. Technicians can also operate Morse Code (CW) on portions of
the 80m, 40m, 15m, and 10m bands, and voice and digital modes on portions of the 10m
band.
There are two other license classes: the General Class license and the Amateur Extra Class
license. To get a General Class license, you must pass another 35-question test; the Amateur
Extra Class test has 50 questions. The tests are progressively more difYicult.
General Class licensees get phone and digital mode privileges on portions of the 160m,
80m, 60m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m bands. They can also operate CW and digital modes on
the 30m band. Amateur Extra licensees have all amateur privileges.

How much does it cost?


Basic study materials, such as this study guide, can be had for free, and the license exam fee
will be $15 or less. Once you have your Yirst license, most hams Yind it best to start with
simple equipment and grow over time. A handheld VHF FM transceiver can be purchased
for less than $100 new, and excellent used equipment is often available at low prices. All
things considered, the cost to get the Yirst license and radio should be less than $200.

Where do I take the test?


Amateur radio license examinations are given by Volunteer Examiners, or VEs. VEs are
licensed radio amateurs who have been trained to administer amateur radio tests. To Yind
out when the VEs in your area will be giving the test go to the American Radio Relay
League's (ARRL) website: http://www.arrl.org/Yind-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-
session. Using that page, you will be able to search for test sessions that are close to you. If
you do not have access to the Internet, you can phone the ARRL at 860-594-0200.

Can I really learn how to be an amateur radio operator from a study


guide like this?
Yes and no. This manual will help you get your license, but getting your license is only the
beginning. There is still much to learn, and to get the most out of amateur radio, you will
have to continually learn new things.
This study guide will teach you the answers to the test questions, but will not give you a
deep understanding of electronics, radio, or the rules and regulations. That will be up to
you after you get your license.
I hope that by helping you get your license that youll be encouraged to become an active
radio amateur and get on the air, participate in public service and emergency
communications, join an amateur radio club, and experiment with radios, antennas, and
circuits. These are the activities that will really help you learn about radio in depth, and in
the end, help you be conYident in your abilities as an amateur radio operator.

How do I use this study guide?


First, read through the study guide, and then, take some practice tests. The characters in
parentheses (T5A05), for examplerefer to the question number in the Technician Class
Exam Question Pool. You will Yind the answers to questions in bold.
You can take practice tests by going to the following websites:
AA9PW.com
QRZ.com/hamtest/
eHam.net/exams/
HamExam.org
HamStudy.org
copaseticYlows.appspot.com/hamtest
There are also ham test apps for both iOS and Android tablets:
iOS:
Amateur Radio Exam Prep (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amateur-radio-exam-
prep-technician/id297951496?mt=8). $4.99
Ham Radio Exam (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ham-radio-exam-tech/
id601991935?mt=8). FREE.
Android:

Ham Radio Study (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?


id=com.tango11.hamstudy)

Ham Test Prep (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?


id=com.iversoft.ham.test.prep&hl=en)

Good luck and have fun


I hope that you Yind this study guide useful and that youll become a radio amateur.
Remember that getting your license is just a start, and that you will be continually learning
new things.
If you have any comments, questions, compliments or complaints, I want to hear from you.
E-mail me at cwgeek@kb6nu.com. My goal is to continually reYine this study guide and to
continually make it better.
Dan Romanchik KB6NU

Electrical principles: math for electronics, electronic


principles, Ohms Law
Electrical principles, units, and terms: current and voltage,
conductors and insulators, alternating and direct current, resistance,
power
You don't have to be an electronics engineer to get a Technician Class license, but it does
help to know the basics of electricity and some of the units we use in electronics. The most
important concepts are current, voltage, resistance, power, and frequency.
Voltage is the force that causes electrons to Ylow in a circuit. Voltage is sometimes called
electromotive force, or EMF. Voltage is the electrical term for the electromotive force (EMF)
that causes electron Ylow. (T5A05) The volt is the basic unit of electromotive force.
(T5A11) The letter V is the symbol we use for volts. About 12 volts is the amount of
voltage that a mobile transceiver usually requires. (T5A06)
Current is the name for the Ylow of electrons in an electric circuit. (T5A03) Electrical
current is measured in amperes. (T5A01) Direct current is the name for a current that
Ylows only in one direction. (T5A04) Batteries supply direct current, or simply DC.
Alternating current is the name for a current that reverses direction on a regular basis.
(T5A09) Frequency is the term that describes the number of times per second that an
alternating current reverses direction. (T5A12) Alternating current, or AC, is what is
available from your homes wall sockets. Power supplies convert the AC into DC, which is
required for most modern amateur radio equipment.
Resistance is the term used to describe opposition to current Ylow in a circuit. The basic
unit of resistance is the ohm. The Greek letter omega () is shorthand for ohms.
Conductors are materials that conduct electrical current well, or, in other words, have a low
resistance. The copper wires that we use to connect a power supply to a radio are good
conductors because copper is a good electrical conductor. (T5A07)
Insulators are materials that that have a high resistance. They do not conduct electrical
current very well. Plastics and glass, for example, are good electrical insulators. (T5A08)
The term that describes the rate at which electrical energy is used (or generated) is power.
(T5A10) Electrical power is measured in watts. (T5A02) The letter W is the symbol we use
for watts.

Ohms Law: formulas and usage


Hams obey Ohms Law!
Ohms Law is the relationship between voltage, current, and the resistance in a DC circuit.
When you know any two of these values, you can calculate the third.
The most basic equation for Ohms Law is

E =I R

In other words, when you know the current going into a circuit and the resistance of the
circuit, the formula used to calculate voltage across the circuit is voltage (E) equals
current (I) multiplied by resistance (R). (T5D02)
When you know the voltage across a circuit and the current in the circuit, the formula used
to calculate resistance in a circuit is resistance (R) equals voltage (E) divided by current
(I). (T5D03) We can also write this formula as

R =E I

When you know the voltage across a circuit and the resistance of a circuit, the formula used
to calculate current in the circuit is current (I) equals voltage (E) divided by resistance
(R). (T5D01) This formula is written

I =E R

Examples
The resistance of a circuit in which a current of 3 amperes Ylows through a resistor
connected to 90 volts is 30 ohms. (T5D04)

R = E I = 90 V 3 A = 30

The resistance in a circuit for which the applied voltage is 12 volts and the current Ylow is
1.5 amperes is 8 ohms.(T5D05)

R = E I = 12 V 1.5 A = 8

The resistance of a circuit that draws 4 amperes from a 12-volt source is 3 ohms. (T5D06)

R = E I = 12 V 4 A = 3

The current Ylow in a circuit with an applied voltage of 120 volts and a resistance of 80
ohms is 1.5 amperes. (T5D07)

I = E R = 120 V 80 = 1.5 A

The current Ylowing through a 100-ohm resistor connected across 200 volts is 2 amperes.
(T5D08)

I = E R = 200 V 100 = 2 A

The current Ylowing through a 24-ohm resistor connected across 240 volts is 10 amperes.
(T5D09)

I = E R = 240 V 24 = 10 A

The voltage across a 2-ohm resistor if a current of 0.5 amperes Ylows through it is 1 volt.
(T5D10)

E = I R = 0.5 A 2 = 1 V

The voltage across a 10-ohm resistor if a current of 1 ampere Ylows through it is 10 volts.
(T5D11)

E = I R = 1 A 10 = 10 V

The voltage across a 10-ohm resistor if a current of 2 amperes Ylows through it is 20 volts.
(T5D12)

E = I R = 2 A 10 = 20 V

Electronic principles: DC power calculation


Power is the rate at which electrical energy is generated or consumed. The formula used to
calculate electrical power in a DC circuit is power (P) equals voltage (E) multiplied by
current (I). (T5C08)

P= E I

138 watts is the power being used in a circuit when the applied voltage is 13.8 volts DC
and the current is 10 amperes. (T5C09)

P = E I = 13.8 V 10 A = 138 W

When the applied voltage in a circuit is 12 volts DC and the current is 2.5 amperes, the
power being used is 30 watts. (T5C10)

P = E I = 12 V 2.5 A = 30 W

Just as with Ohms Law, you can use algebra to come up with other forms of this equation to
calculate the voltage if you know the power and the current, or to calculate the current if
you know the power and the voltage. The formula to calculate the current, if you know the
power and the voltage is

I =PE

For example, 10 amperes are Ylowing in a circuit when the applied voltage is 12 volts DC
and the load is 120 watts. (T5C11)

I = P E = 120 W 12 V = 10 A

Math for electronics: conversion of electrical units, decibels, the


metric system
When dealing with electrical parameters, such as voltage, resistance, current, and power,
we use a set of preYixes to denote various orders of magnitude:
milli- is the preYix we use to denote 1 one-thousandth of a quantity. A milliampere, for
example, is 1 one-thousandth of an ampere, or 0.001 A. Often, the letter m is used instead
of the preYix milli-. 1 milliampere is, therefore, 1 mA.
micro- is the preYix we use to denote 1 millionth of a quantity. A microvolt, for example, is
1 millionth of a volt, or 0.000001 V. Often you will see the Greek letter mu, or , to denote
the preYix micro-. 1 microvolt is, therefore, 1 V.
pico- is the preYix we use to denote 1 trillionth of a quantity. A picovolt is 1 trillionth of a
volt, or 0.000001 V.
kilo- is the preYix we use to denote 1 thousand of a quantity. A kilovolt, for example, is
1000 volts. Often, the letter k is used instead of the preYix kilo-. 1 kilovolt is, therefore, 1
kV.
mega- is the preYix we use to denote 1 million of a quantity. A megahertz, for example, is 1
million Hertz. The unit of frequency is the Hertz. (T5C05) It is equal to one cycle per
second. Often, the letter M is used instead of the preYix mega-. 1 megahertz is, therefore, 1
MHz.
Here are some examples:
1,500 milliamperes is 1.5 amperes. (T5B01)
Another way to specify a radio signal frequency of 1,500,000 hertz is 1500 kHz.
(T5B02)
One thousand volts are equal to one kilovolt. (T5B03)
One one-millionth of a volt is equal to one microvolt. (T5B04)
0.5 watts is equivalent to 500 millwatts. (T5B05)
If an ammeter (a meter that meaures current) calibrated in amperes is used to measure a
3000-milliampere current, the reading it would show would be 3 amperes. (T5B06)
If a frequency readout calibrated in megahertz shows a reading of 3.525 MHz, it would
show 3525 kHz if it were calibrated in kilohertz. (T5B07)
1 microfarad is 1,000,000 picofarads. (T5B08) (Farad is the unit for capacitance.)
28.400 MHz is equal to 28,400 kHz. (T5B12)
If a frequency readout shows a reading of 2425 MHz, the frequency in GHz is 2.425 GHz.
(T5B13)
When dealing with ratiosespecially power ratioswe often use decibels (dB). The reason
for this is that the decibel scale is a logarithmic scale, meaning that we can talk about large
ratios with relatively small numbers. At this point, you dont need to know the formula used
to calculate the ratio in dB, but keep in mind the following values:
3 dB is the approximate amount of change, measured in decibels (dB), of a power
increase from 5 watts to 10 watts. (T5B09) This is a ratio of 2 to 1.
6 dB is the approximate amount of change, measured in decibels (dB), of a power
decrease from 12 watts to 3 watts. (T5B10) This is a ration of 4 to 1.

10 dB is the approximate amount of change, measured in decibels (dB), of a power


increase from 20 watts to 200 watts. (T5B11) This is a ratio of 10 to 1.

Electronic principles and components: resistors, capacitors and


capacitance, inductors and inductance, batteries
A resistor is the electrical component used to oppose the Ylow of current in a DC circuit.
(T6A01) Most resistors have a Yixed value, which is speciYied in ohms.
Some resistors are variable, that is you can change the resistance of the resistor by turning
a shaft or sliding a control back and forth. These variable resistors are called
potentiometers. A potentiometer is the type of component that is often used as an
adjustable volume control. (T6A02) Resistance is the electrical parameter that is
controlled by a potentiometer. (T6A03)
The type of electrical component that consists of two or more conductive surfaces
separated by an insulator is a capacitor. (T6A05) A capacitor is the electrical component
that stores energy in an electric Yield. (T6A04) Capacitance is the ability to store energy in
an electric Yield. (T5C01) The farad is the basic unit of capacitance. (T5C02)
The type of electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic Yield is an inductor.
(T6A06) The electrical component that is usually composed of a coil of wire is an inductor.
(T6A07) The ability to store energy in a magnetic Yield is called inductance. (T5C03) The
henry is the basic unit of inductance. (T5C04)
A switch is the electrical component used to connect or disconnect electrical circuits.
(T6A08)
A fuse is the electrical component used to protect other circuit components from current
overloads. (T6A09)
As amateur radio operators, we often use batteries to power our radio equipment. Some
types of batteries are rechargeable, while others are not. The battery type that is not
rechargeable is the carbon-zinc battery. (T6A11) All of these choices are correct when
talking about battery types that are rechargeable (T6A10):
Nickel-metal hydride
Lithium-ion
Lead-acid gel-cell

10

Semiconductors: basic principles and applications of solid state


devices, diodes and transistors
A diode is an electronic component that allows current to Ylow in only one direction.
(T6B02) Diodes have only two electrodes. Anode and cathode are the names of the two
electrodes of a diode. (T6B09) A semiconductor diodes cathode lead is usually identiYied
with a stripe. (T6B06)
Light-emitting diodes are a particular type of diode. When current Ylows through them, they
emit visible light, making them useful as indicators and as part of digital readouts. The
abbreviation LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. (T6B07)
Transistors are electronic components capable of using a voltage or current signal to
control current Ylow. (T6B01) The transistor is a component that can be used as either an
electronic switch or ampliYier. (T6B03) Gain is the term that describes a transistor's ability
to amplify a signal. (T6B12) The transistor is an electronic component that can amplify
signals. (T6B05)
A transistor is a component made of three layers of semiconductor material. (T6B04)
Bipolar junction transistors have layers that are either P-type, which means that it has a
positive net charge, or N-type, which means it has a net negative charge. Each layer has an
electrode, making the transistor a device with three leads.
There are two types of bipolar junction transistors: PNP or NPN. A PNP transistor has two P
layers, with an N layer sandwiched between them. An NPN transistor has two N layers, with
a P layer sandwiched between them. The three electrodes of a PNP or NPN transistor are
the emitter, base, and collector. (T6B10)
Another type of transistor often found in amateur radio equipment is the Yield-effect
transistor. The abbreviation FET stands for Field Effect Transistor. (T6B08) FETs, like
NPN and PNP transistors have three leads. Source, gate, and drain are the three electrodes
of a Yield effect transistor. (T6B11)

11

Circuit diagrams, schematic symbols, component functions


Schematic symbols is the name for standardized representations of components in an
electrical wiring diagram. (T6C01) The symbols on an electrical circuit schematic diagram
represent electrical components. (T6C12) The way components are interconnected is
accurately represented in electrical circuit schematic diagrams. (T6C13)
Figure T1 is a schematic diagram of a simple
circuit that turns on a lamp when a positive
voltage is applied to the input.
Component 1 in Yigure T1 is a resistor.
(T6C02) Its function is to limit the input
current.
Component 2 in Yigure T1 is a transistor.
(T6C03) Its function is to switch the current
through the lamp on and off. The function of
component 2 in Figure T1 is to control the
Ulow of current. (T6D10)
Component 3 in Yigure T1 is the lamp.
(T6C04)
Component 4 in Yigure T1 is a battery. (T6C05) This battery supplies the current that lights
the lamp.

12

The circuit shown in Figure T2 is a simple power supply. Component 2 is a fuse.

Component 3 in Yigure T2 represents a single-pole single-throw switch. (T6D03) It turns


the power supply on and off.
Component 4 in Yigure T2 is a transformer. (T6C09) A transformer is commonly used to
change 120V AC house current to a lower AC voltage for other uses. (T6D06)
A rectiUier changes an alternating current into a varying direct current signal. (T6D01)
Component 5 in Figure T2 is a rectiYier diode.
Component 6 in Yigure T2 is a capacitor. (T6C06) It is a Yilter capacitor, whose function is to
help Yilter out the 60 Hz component of the rectiYied AC.
Component 8 in Yigure T2 is a light emitting diode. (T6C07). It is a pilot light, serving to
alert a user when the power supply is on.
Component 9 in Yigure T2 is a variable resistor, or potentiometer. (T6C08) Its purpose is
to limit the output current of the supply.

13

The circuit shown in Figure T3 is the output


circuit of a transmitter. Component 3 in Yigure
T3 is a variable inductor. (T6C10)
There are two variable capacitors in this circuit
component 2 and the unlabeled component.
A capacitor is used together with an inductor
to make a tuned circuit. (T6D08)
Component 4 in Yigure T3 is an antenna.
(T6C11)
An inductor and a capacitor connected in
series or parallel to form a Uilter is a simple
resonant or tuned circuit. (T6D11) When the
capacitor and inductor are connected in series,
the circuit has a very low impedance at the
resonant frequency. When the capacitor and
inductor are connected in parallel, the circuit
has a very high impedance at the resonant
frequency.

14

Other components
There are many different types of components in modern radio equipment. Below, we will
describe the types of components you will need to know about to pass the Technician Class
license examination.
A relay is a switch controlled by an electromagnet. (T6D02)
Meters are devices used to indicate many different values. For example, a meter can be
used to display signal strength on a numeric scale. (T6D04) Meters are also used to indicate
the output voltage of a power supply, the output power of a transmitter, and many other
parameters.
Integrated circuit is the name of a device that combines several semiconductors and other
components into one package. (T6D09) Integrated circuits may perform either analog or
digital functions. One type of analog integrated circuit that is very common is the voltage
regulator. A regulator is the type of circuit that controls the amount of voltage from a
power supply. (T6D05)
An LED is commonly used as a visual indicator. (T6D07) LED is short for light-emitting
diode. They come in a variety of colors.
When connecting electronic assemblies together, we often use cables with one or more
conductors. Some of those conductors may have a shield around them that is connected to
ground. A common reason to use shielded wire is to prevent coupling of unwanted
signals to or from the wire. (T6D12)

15

Radio wave characteristics: properties of radio waves,


propagation modes
Frequency, wavelength, the electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic is the type of wave that carries radio signals between transmitting and
receiving stations. (T3A07) The usual name for electromagnetic waves that travel through
space is radio waves. (T5C07) As the name would imply, the two components of a radio
wave are electric and magnetic Uields. (T3B03)
One important parameter of a radio wave is its frequency, or the number of cycles that it
goes through per second. The unit of frequency is the Hertz (Hz). (T5C05) One Hz is one
cycle per second.
A radio wave travels at the speed of light through free space. (T3B04) Because the speed
of light is about 300,000,000 meters per second, the approximate velocity of a radio wave
as it travels through free space is 300,000,000 meters per second. (T3B11)
Another important parameter of a radio wave is its wavelength. Wavelength is the name
for the distance a radio wave travels during one complete cycle. (T3B01)
Because radio waves travel at the speed of light, no matter what their frequency happens to
be, the wavelength gets shorter as the frequency increases. (T3B05) The formula for
converting frequency to wavelength in meters is wavelength in meters equals 300
divided by frequency in megahertz. (T3B06)
The approximate wavelength of radio waves is often used to identify the different
frequency bands. (T3B07) For example, when we refer to the 2 meter band, we are
referring to the amateur radio band that spans 144 MHz to 148 MHz. A radio wave with a
frequency of 148 MHz, would have a wavelength of 2.03 meters.
The abbreviation RF refers to radio frequency signals of all types. (T5C06) For
convenience, we split the entire range of radio frequencies into sub-ranges, including high
frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF). The frequency
range 3 to 30 MHz is referred to as HF. (T3B10) The frequency limits of the VHF spectrum
are 30 to 300 MHz. (T3B08) The frequency limits of the UHF spectrum are 300 to 3000
MHz. (T3B09)

16

Radio wave characteristics, how a radio signal travels, propagation


modes
As amateur radio operators, we should always try to use the right frequency and the right
mode when communicating. To do this, we need to know how radio signals travel from one
point to another and what affect frequency, our antennas, and even our location have on
signal propagation.
Communications at VHF and UHF frequencies are generally line of sight communications.
That is to say that normally they travel in a straight line from the transmitter to the receiver.
For this reason, they are normally used for local communications. The reason direct (not
via a repeater) UHF signals are rarely heard from stations outside your local coverage area
is that UHF signals are usually not reUlected by the ionosphere. (T3C01) Well talk more
about the ionosphere below.
The maximum distance for line-of-sight communications is called the radio horizon. The
radio horizon is the distance at which radio signals between two points are effectively
blocked by the curvature of the Earth. (T3C10) Because the Earth seems less curved to
radio waves than to light, VHF and UHF radio signals usually travel somewhat farther
than the visual line of sight distance between two stations, meaning that the radio horizon
is somewhat farther than the visual horizon. (T3C11)
One problem often encountered when using VHF and UHF frequencies is multi-path
distortion. Multi-path distortion occurs when your signals arrive at a receiving station via
two or more paths. Since the signal paths may have different lengths, they may arrive out of
phase and cancel one another. For example, if another operator reports that your stations 2
meter signals were strong just a moment ago, but now they are weak or distorted, try
moving a few feet, as random reUlections may be causing multi-path distortion.
(T3A01)
Multi-path distortion affects both voice and digital transmissions. Error rates are likely to
increase if VHF or UHF data signals propagate over multiple paths. (T3A10)
When using a repeater, you may Yind yourself in a place where a direct path to the repeater
is not possible. If you Yind yourself in this situation, you could try using a directional
antenna. When using a directional antenna, try to Uind a path that reUlects signals to the
repeater if buildings or obstructions are blocking the direct line of sight path to a distant
repeater. (T3A05)
If you try to use a hand-held transceiver inside a building to communicate with someone,
you might want to choose to operate in a UHF band. The reason for this is that UHF signals
are often more effective from inside buildings than VHF signals because the shorter
wavelength allows them to more easily penetrate the structure of buildings. (T3A02)
Another interesting phenomenon is knife-edge propagation. Knife-edge propagation is
the term used to describe when signals are partially refracted around solid objects
exhibiting sharp edges. (T3C05) You might be able to use this phenomenon to get your
signal around a building in an urban setting.
Antenna polarization is also important at VHF and UHF frequencies. The orientation of
the electric Uield is the property of a radio wave that is used to describe its polarization.
17

(T3B02) Signals could be signiUicantly weaker if the antennas at opposite ends of a VHF
or UHF line of sight radio link are not using the same polarization. (T3A04)
When using a repeater, vertical polarization is most often used. So, when using a hand-held
transceiver, make sure to hold it so that your antenna is vertically oriented. On the other
hand, horizontal antenna polarization is normally used for long-distance weak-signal CW
and SSB contacts using the VHF and UHF bands. (T3A03)
Mobile operation has its own unique challenges as your transmitter location is constantly
changing. This means that the signal at the receiving station constantly changes as well.
Picket fencing is the term commonly used to describe the rapid Yluttering sound
sometimes heard from mobile stations that are moving while transmitting. (T3A06)
Even though VHF communications are most often line-of-sight, there are times when its
possible to communicate over long distances. Sometimes, VHF signals will bounce off the E
layer of the ionosphere. When VHF signals are being received from long distances, what
might be happening is that signals are being refracted from a sporadic E layer. (T3C02)
Sporadic E propagation is most commonly associated with occasional strong over- the-
horizon signals on the 10, 6, and 2 meter bands. (T3C04)
Other interesting propagation phenomena at VHF frequencies include auroral reYlection,
meteor scatter, tropospheric scatter, and tropospheric ducting. Bouncing signals off the
earths aurora is very interesting. A characteristic of VHF signals received via auroral
reYlection is that the signals exhibit rapid Uluctuations of strength and often sound
distorted. (T3C03)
Some hams also bounce signals off meteor showers. This propagation mode is called
meteor scatter. 6 meters is the band best suited to communicating via meteor scatter.
(T3C07)
The troposphere is the lowest region of the atmosphere, extending from the earth's surface
to a height of about 610 km. Tropospheric scatter is the mode responsible for allowing
over-the-horizon VHF and UHF communications to ranges of approximately 300 miles on a
regular basis. (T3C06) Temperature inversions in the atmosphere causes tropospheric
ducting. (T3C08) Tropospheric ducting can also propagate VHF signals for many hundreds
of miles.

18

HF Propagation
For more reliable long-distance communications, amateurs use the HF frequencies. The
reason for this is that HF signals bounce off the ionosphere. The ionosphere is the part of
the atmosphere that enables the propagation of radio signals around the world. (T3A11) It
contains a high concentration of ions and free electrons and is able to reYlect radio waves. It
extends from about 50 to 600 miles above the earth's surface.
One interesting phenomenon that is related to HF propagation is the sunspot cycle.
Generally, the number of sunspots increases and decrease over an 11-year cycle, and HF
propagation is best at times when there are many sunspots. Because of this, six or ten
meters may provide long distance communications during the peak of the sunspot cycle.
(T3C12)
Because of the way that the ionosphere changes throughout the day, propagation is best on
the higher frequency bands, such as 10m, 15m and 20m, during the day while propagation
is best on the lower frequency bands (160m, 80m, 40m) at night. Consequently, the best
time for long-distance 10 meter band propagation via the F layer is from dawn to shortly
after sunset during periods of high sunspot activity. (T3C09)
A common phenomenon of HF signal propagation is fading. The cause of irregular fading of
signals from distant stations during times of generally good reception is random
combining of signals arriving via different path lengths. (T3A08)
Unlike VHF/UHF communications, antenna polarization is not quite so important. This is
because signals skip off the ionosphere and become elliptically polarized. Because skip
signals refracted from the ionosphere are elliptically polarized, either vertically or
horizontally polarized antennas may be used for transmission or reception. (T3A09)

19

Antennas and Feedlines


Antenna types, antenna polarization
The most common, and perhaps the simplest, antenna is the half-wave dipole antenna. As
the name suggests, it measures close to one half wavelength from one end of the antenna to
the other. A simple dipole mounted so the conductor is parallel to the Earth's surface is a
horizontally polarized antenna. (T9A03) The direction that radiation is strongest from a
half-wave dipole antenna in free space is broadside to the antenna. (T9A10)
The length of a dipole antenna is actually about 5% shorter than the value that you would
calculate using the formula wavelength in meters equals 300 divided by frequency in
megahertz. The reason for this is that there will be some stray capacitance between the
wire and the ground and other objects near the antenna. Consequently, the approximate
length of a 6 meter 1/2-wavelength wire dipole antenna is 112 inches. (T9A09) To make a
dipole antenna resonant on a higher frequency, you would shorten it. (T9A05)
Perhaps the second-most popular type of amateur radio antenna is the quarter-wave
vertical antenna. For vertical antennas, the electric Uield is perpendicular to the Earth.
(T9A02) This makes them vertically-polarized antennas. The approximate length of a
quarter-wavelength vertical antenna for 146 MHz is 19 inches. (T9A08)
Because HF antennas can be very long, many amateurs use a technique called loading to
shorten them. Loading, when referring to an antenna, means inserting an inductor in the
radiating portion of the antenna to make it electrically longer. (T9A14)
Another popular type of antenna is the beam antenna. A beam antenna is an antenna that
concentrates signals in one direction. (T9A01) The quad, Yagi, and dish antennas are
directional antennas. (T9A06) The gain of an antenna is the increase in signal strength
in a speciUied direction when compared to a reference antenna. (T9A11)
Most hand-held VHF and UHF transceivers come with whats called a rubber duck
antenna. Rubber duck antennas use inductive loading to make them shorter than a full-
sized antenna. A disadvantage of the rubber duck antenna supplied with most handheld
radio transceivers is that it does not transmit or receive as effectively as a full-sized
antenna. (T9A04) A good reason not to use a rubber duck antenna inside your car is that
signals can be signiUicantly weaker than when it is outside of the vehicle. (T9A07)
A better option is to use an externally-mounted antenna. VHF or UHF mobile antennas are
often mounted in the center of the vehicle roof because a roof mounted antenna
normally provides the most uniform radiation pattern. (T9A13) Many mobile
installations use a 5/8-wavelength vertical antenna. One reason to use a properly mounted
5/8 wavelength antenna for VHF or UHF mobile service is that it offers a lower angle of
radiation and more gain than a 1/4 wavelength antenna and usually provides
improved coverage. (T9A12)

20

Feedlines: types of feedline, connectors


Feedlines connect radios to antennas. There are many different types of feedlines, but
coaxial cable is used more often than any other feedline for amateur radio antenna systems
because it is easy to use and requires few special installation considerations. (T9B03)
A common use of coaxial cable is carrying RF signals between a radio and antenna.
(T7C12) Note, however, that the loss increases as the frequency of a signal passing
through coaxial cable is increased. (T9B05)
When choosing a feedline, it is important to match the impedance of the feedline to the
output impedance of the transmitter and the input impedance of the antenna. Impedance is
a measure of the opposition to AC current Ulow in a circuit. (T5C12) Ohms are the units
of impedance. (T5C13)
Most amateur radio transmitters are designed to have an output impedance of 50 ohms.
Because that is the case, the impedance of the most commonly used coaxial cable in typical
amateur radio installations is 50 ohms. (T9B02)
RG-58 and RG-8 are two types of coaxial cable often used in amateur radio stations. Both
have an impedance of 50 ohms, but there are important differences between the two. One
electrical difference between the smaller RG-58 and larger RG-8 coaxial cables is that RG-8
cable has less loss at a given frequency. (T9B10) The type of coax that has the lowest
loss at VHF and UHF is air-insulated hard line. (T9B11)
Moisture contamination is the most common cause for failure of coaxial cables. (T7C09)
One way that moisture enters a cable is via cracks in the cables outer jacket. The reason
that the outer jacket of coaxial cable should be resistant to ultraviolet light is that
ultraviolet light can damage the jacket and allow water to enter the cable.(T7C10) A
disadvantage of air core coaxial cable when compared to foam or solid dielectric types is
that it requires special techniques to prevent water absorption. (T7C11)
PL-259 connectors are the most common type of connectors used on coaxial cables in
amateur radio stations. One thing that is true of PL-259 type coax connectors is that they
are commonly used at HF frequencies. (T9B07)
One problem with PL-259 connectors is that they are not the most suitable connector when
operating at higher frequencies. Instead, a Type N connector is most suitable for
frequencies above 400 MHz. (T9B06)
No matter what type of connector you use, coax connectors exposed to the weather should
be sealed against water intrusion to prevent an increase in feedline loss. (T9B08) Also
make sure to tighten connectors well. Also make sure that your antenna connections are
tight and the connectors are soldered properly. A loose connection in an antenna or a
feedline might cause erratic changes in SWR readings. (T9B09)

21

Standing wave ratio and antenna measurements


Standing wave ratio is a term youll often hear when talking about antennas and feedlines.
In general terms, standing wave ratio (SWR) is a measure of how well a load is matched
to a transmission line. (T7C03) In this context, the load is the antenna. When we say
that an antenna is matched to a transmission line, we mean that the impedance of the
transmission line is equal to the impedance of the antenna.
The reason it is important to have a low SWR in an antenna system that uses coaxial cable
feedline is to allow the efUicient transfer of power and reduce losses. (T9B01) The
bigger the mismatch is between the feedline and the load, the higher the SWR will be, and
the more power you will lose in the feedline. Power lost in a feedline is converted into
heat. (T7C07) Power converted into heat is not radiated by the antenna, meaning your
radiated signal will be weaker.
You can measure the SWR of your antenna system with an SWR meter. An in-line SWR
meter should be connected in series with the feed line, between the transmitter and
antenna to monitor the standing wave ratio of the station antenna system. (T4A05) You
usually connect an SWR meter near the output of your transmitter because it is convenient
to do so and because most transmitters will reduce power if the SWR at the transmitter
output is too high. To maximize the efYiciency of your antenna system, however, you should
connect it between the feedline and the antenna.
An SWR meter is not the only way to measure SWR. A directional wattmeter is an
instrument other than an SWR meter that you could use to determine if a feedline and
antenna are properly matched. (T7C08) When using a directional wattmeter, you Yirst
measure the forward power, then the reYlected power, and from those two values, calculate
the SWR.
1 to 1 is the reading on an SWR meter indicates a perfect impedance match between the
antenna and the feedline. (T7C04) 2 to 1 is the approximate SWR value above which the
protection circuits in most solid-state transmitters begin to reduce transmitter power.
(T7C05) An SWR reading of 4:1 means that there is an impedance mismatch. (T7C06)
One way to ensure that the impedance of the antenna system matches the output
impedance of transmitter is to use an antenna tuner. An antenna tuner matches the
antenna system impedance to the transceiver's output impedance. (T9B04)
In addition to the SWR meter and the directional wattmeter, there are a couple of other
types of test instruments commonly found in an amateurs shack. One instrument that
every shack should have is the dummy load. A dummy load consists of a non-inductive
resistor and a heat sink. (T7C13) The primary purpose of a dummy load is to prevent
the radiation of signals when making tests. (T7C01)
Another common test instrument is the antenna analyzer. An antenna analyzer is an
instrument that can be used to determine if an antenna is resonant at the desired operating
frequency. (T7C02) You can also make a number of other measurements that will help you
set up an antenna system, such as SWR, capacitive reactance, and inductive reactance.

22

Amateur Radio Signals


Modulation modes, signal bandwidth
When you get your Technician license, chances are FM is the type of modulation that youll
use Yirst. Frequency modulation, or FM, is the type of modulation most commonly used for
VHF and UHF voice repeaters. (T8A04) FM is also the type of modulation most commonly
used for VHF packet radio transmissions. (T8A02)
Single sideband, or SSB, is the type of voice modulation most often used for long-distance
or weak signal contacts on the VHF and UHF bands. (T8A03) Single sideband is a form of
amplitude modulation. (T8A01) A single-sideband signal may be upper- or lower-sideband.
Upper sideband is normally used for 10 meter HF, VHF and UHF single-sideband
communications. (T8A06)
The primary advantage of single sideband over FM for voice transmissions is that SSB
signals have narrower bandwidth. (T8A07) The approximate bandwidth of a single
sideband voice signal is 3 kHz. (T8A08) The approximate bandwidth of a VHF repeater FM
phone signal is between 10 and 15 kHz. (T8A09)
Morse Code, or CW, is the type of emission that has the narrowest bandwidth. (T8A05) The
approximate maximum bandwidth required to transmit a CW signal is 150 Hz. (T8A11)
International Morse is the code used when sending CW in the amateur bands. (T8D09) All
of these choices are correct when talking about instruments used to transmit CW in the
amateur bands (T8D10):
Straight Key
Electronic Keyer
Computer Keyboard
Some modes have very wide bandwidths. The typical bandwidth of analog fast-scan TV
transmissions on the 70 cm band, for example, is about 6 MHz. (T8A10) The type of
transmission indicated by the term NTSC is an analog fast scan color TV signal. (T8D04)

23

Digital modes: packet, PSK31


When hams talk about digital modes, we are talking about modes that send digital data
rather than voice or other types of analog signals, such as television. Usually, we connect
our transceivers to a computer to modulate and demodulate the digital signals, but some
newer transceivers can do this internally. All of these choices are correct (examples of a
digital communications method) (T8D01):
Packet
PSK31
MFSK
Packet radio was one of the Yirst digital modes. It is called packet radio because the data to
be sent from station to station is separated into a number of packets which are then sent
separately by the transmitting station and received and re-assembled by the receiving
station. All of these choices are correct when talking about what may be included in a
packet transmission (T8D08):
A check sum which permits error detection
A header which contains the call sign of the station to which the information is being sent
Automatic repeat request in case of error
Some amateur radio digital communications systems use protocols which ensure error-
free communications. One such system is called an automatic repeat request, or ARQ,
transmission system. An ARQ transmission system is a digital scheme whereby the
receiving station detects errors and sends a request to the sending station to
retransmit the information. (T8D11)
APRS is one service that uses packet radio. The term APRS means Automatic Packet
Reporting System. (T8D02) A Global Positioning System receiver is normally used
when sending automatic location reports via amateur radio. (T8D03) Providing real time
tactical digital communications in conjunction with a map showing the locations of
stations is an application of APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System). (T8D05)
A popular digital mode on the HF bands is PSK. The abbreviation PSK means Phase Shift
Keying. (T8D06) PSK31 is a low-rate data transmission mode. (T8D07) The 31 in
PSK31 comes from the fact that data is transmitted and received at about 31 baud and that
the bandwidth of a PSK31 signal is only about 31 Hz.

24

Electrical safety: AC and DC power circuits, antenna


installation, RF hazards
Power circuits and hazards: hazardous voltages, fuses and circuit
breakers, grounding, lightning protection, battery safety, electrical
code compliance
BE SAFE!
When operating or working on amateur radio equipment, its possible to come into contact
with dangerous voltages and currents. People have died working on high-voltage circuits or
putting up antenna.
Because it would be a shame to lose a single person, its important to know how to be safe
when working with electricity. Having said that, 30 volts is the commonly accepted value
for the lowest voltage that can cause a dangerous electric shock, and 100 mA is the lowest
amount of electrical current Ylowing through the body that is likely to cause death. These
are not very large values.
All of these choices are correct when considering how current Ylowing through the body
can cause a health hazard (T0A02):
By heating tissue
It disrupts the electrical functions of cells
It causes involuntary muscle contractions
When properly wired, three-wire electrical outlets and plugs are safer than two-wire
outlets and plugs, and you should use three-wire plugs for all of your amateur radio
equipment. The third wire provides an independent, or safety ground. Safety ground is
connected to the green wire in a three- wire electrical AC plug. (T0A03)
All of these choices are correct when choosing a good way to guard against electrical
shock at your station (T0A06):
Use three-wire cords and plugs for all AC powered equipment
Connect all AC powered station equipment to a common safety ground
Use a circuit protected by a ground-fault interrupter
Individual pieces of equipment may have their own fuses to protect that piece of equipment
should something happen that causes that equipment to draw excessive current. The
purpose of a fuse in an electrical circuit is to interrupt power in case of overload.
(T0A04) When replacing a fuse, always replace the blown fuse with a fuse of the same type
and value. It is, for example, unwise to install a 20-ampere fuse in the place of a 5-ampere
fuse because excessive current could cause a Uire. (T0A05)
If you plan to build your own equipment, be sure to include fuses in your designs. A fuse or
circuit breaker in series with the AC hot conductor should always be included in
home-built equipment that is powered from 120V AC power circuits. (T0A08)
Whenever youre working on equipment, be sure to disconnect it from the power lines, and
even then be careful working around a power supplys capacitors. If a power supply is

25

turned off and disconnected, you might receive an electric shock from stored charge in
large capacitors. (T0A11)
Finally, its necessary to take precautions when using batteries to power your amateur
radio station. Conventional 12-volt storage batteries present several safety hazards.
Shorting the terminals can cause burns, Uire, or an explosion (T0A01), explosive gas
can collect if not properly vented (T0A09), and, if a lead-acid storage battery is charged
or discharged too quickly, the battery could overheat and give off Ulammable gas or
explode. (T0A10)

26

Antenna safety: tower safety, erecting an antenna support, overhead


power lines, installing an antenna
Antenna safety is also of primary concern. There are two aspects of antenna safetybeing
safe when installing an antenna and safely operating an antenna.
When putting up an antenna tower, an important safety precaution is to look for and stay
clear of any overhead electrical wires. (T0B04) When installing an antenna, make sure
that it is far enough from power lines, so that if the antenna falls unexpectedly, no part
of it can come closer than 10 feet to the power wires. (T0B06) This is the reason you
should avoid attaching an antenna to a utility pole. The antenna could contact high-
voltage power wires. (T0B09)
You also should position the antenna so that no one can touch it while you are transmitting.
If a person accidentally touched your antenna while you were transmitting, they might
receive a painful RF burn. (T0C07)
Another safety tip is to use a gin pole designed for use with the tower that youre installing.
The purpose of a gin pole is to lift tower sections or antennas. (T0B05)
At all times when any work is being done on the tower, members of a tower work team
should wear a hard hat and safety glasses. (T0B01) Before climbing an antenna tower, it is a
good precaution to put on a climbing harness and safety glasses. (T0B02) It is never
safe to climb a tower without a helper or observer. (T0B03) When using a crank-up tower,
an important safety rule to remember is that this type of tower must never be climbed
unless it is in the fully retracted position. (T0B07)
Grounding is very important when installing a tower because the tower is basically a big
lightning rod. Local electrical codes establish grounding requirements for an amateur
radio tower or antenna. (T0B11)
Separate eight-foot long ground rods for each tower leg, bonded to the tower and
each other is considered to be a proper grounding method for a tower. (T0B08) When
installing ground wires on a tower for lightning protection, it is good practice to ensure
that connections are short and direct. (T0B12) Sharp bends must be avoided when
installing grounding conductors used for lightning protection. (T0B10)
Lightning can also be conducted down a feedline and into your shack. To prevent this,
several manufacturers make devices designed to shunt this current to ground before it gets
into the shack. When installing devices for lightning protection in a coaxial cable feedline,
ground all of the protectors to a common plate which is in turn connected to an
external ground. (T0A07)

27

RF hazards: radiation exposure, proximity to antennas, recognized


safe power levels, exposure to others, radiation types, duty cycle
Finally, lets consider the safety hazards of being exposed to radio waves. When using high
power, you are required to perform an RF exposure evaluation, even though VHF and UHF
radio signals are non-ionizing radiation. (T0C01) RF radiation differs from ionizing
radiation (radioactivity) in that RF radiation does not have sufUicient energy to cause
genetic damage. (T0C12)
Even so small levels of RF energy can be unsafe. The maximum power level that an amateur
radio station may use at VHF frequencies before an RF exposure evaluation is required is
50 watts PEP at the antenna. (T0C03)
How do you perform an RF exposure evaluation? All of these choices are correct as
acceptable methods to determine if your station complies with FCC RF exposure
regulations (T0C06):
By calculation based on FCC OET Bulletin 65
By calculation based on computer modeling
By measurement of Yield strength using calibrated equipment
One of the factors to consider when performing an RF exposure evaluation is the duty cycle
of your transmissions. The term duty cycle when referring to RF exposure is the
percentage of time that a transmitter is transmitting. (T0C11) Duty cycle is one of the
factors used to determine safe RF radiation exposure levels because it affects the average
exposure of people to radiation. (T0C10) A transmission with a lower duty cycle would
be less hazardous than a high duty cycle transmission.
Consider this example: If the averaging time for exposure is 6 minutes, 2 times as much
power density is permitted if the signal is present for 3 minutes and absent for 3 minutes
rather than being present for the entire 6 minutes. (T0C13)
Because of the way radio waves interact with the body, the exposure limits are different for
each amateur radio band. Exposure limits vary with frequency because the human body
absorbs more RF energy at some frequencies than at others. (T0C05) The 50 MHz
band has the lowest Maximum Permissible Exposure limit. (T0C02) All of these choices
are correct when talking about factors that affect the RF exposure of people near an
amateur station antenna (T0C04):
Frequency and power level of the RF Yield
Distance from the antenna to a person
Radiation pattern of the antenna
So, what should you do if your RF exposure evaluation shows that people are being exposed
to excessive RF? One action amateur operators might take to prevent exposure to RF
radiation in excess of FCC-supplied limits is to relocate antennas. (T0C08) You could also
lower the power or simply transmit less.
After the initial RF exposure evaluation, you make sure your station stays in compliance
with RF safety regulations by re-evaluating the station whenever an item of equipment
is changed. (T0C09)

28

Amateur radio practices and station set up


Station setup: connecting microphones, reducing unwanted
emissions, power source, connecting a computer, RF grounding,
connecting digital equipment
When setting up an amateur radio station, choosing the radio itself is the most important
consideration, but you must also choose a wide range of accessories, such as power
supplies and microphones. In addition, how you set up the station is important for it to
operate efYiciently.
One accessory that youll deYinitely need is a power supply to provide the DC voltage and
current that your radio needs. A good reason to use a regulated power supply for
communications equipment is that it prevents voltage Uluctuations from reaching
sensitive circuits. (T4A03) When choosing a supply, check the voltage and current ratings
of the supply and be sure to choose one capable of supplying a high enough voltage and
enough current to power your radio.
If you are going to operate with one of the voice modes, youll need a microphone. When
considering the microphone connectors on amateur transceivers, note that some
connectors include push-to-talk and voltages for powering the microphone. (T4A01)
A computer has become a very common accessory in an amateur radio shack. All of these
choices are correct when talking about how a computer is used as part of an amateur
radio station (T4A02):
For logging contacts and contact information
For sending and/or receiving CW
generating and decoding digital signals
If you plan to operate packet radio, you will need a computer and a terminal node
controller, or TNC, in addition to the radio. A terminal node controller would be
connected between a transceiver and computer in a packet radio station. (T4A06) The TNC
converts the ones and zeroes sent by the computer into tones sent over the air.
A more modern way to operate digital modes, such as RTTY or PSK-31, is to use a computer
equipped with a sound card. When conducting digital communications using a computer,
the sound card provides audio to the microphone input and converts received audio
to digital form. (T4A07) The sound card may be connected directly to the radio, but its
usually better to connect it through a device that isolates the radio from the computer. This
prevents ground loops from causing the signal to be noisy.
Audio and power supply cables in a amateur radio station sometimes pick up stray RF. At
minimum, this RF can cause the audio to be noisy. At worst, it can cause a radio or
accessory to malfunction. To reduce RF current Ylowing on the shield of an audio cable (or
in a power supply cable), you would use a ferrite choke. (T4A09)
Modern radio equipment is very well-designed, and harmonic radiation is rarely a problem
these days. Even so, there may be times when it does become a problem, and youll have to
take steps to attenuate the harmonics. To reduce harmonic emissions, a Yilter must be
installed between the transmitter and the antenna. (T4A04)
29

Good grounding techniques can help you avoid interference problems. When grounding
your equipment, you should connect the various pieces of equipment to a single point, keep
leads short, and use a heavy conductor to connect to ground. Flat strap is the type of
conductor that is best to use for RF grounding. (T4A08)
If you plan to install a radio in your car and operate mobile, you have a different set of
challenges. One is connecting the radio to the cars power system. Some amateurs connect
their radio with a cigarette lighter plug, but this plug is not designed for high currents.
Instead, a mobile transceivers power negative connection should be made at the battery
or engine block ground strap. (T4A11) The positive connection can also be made at the
battery or through an unused position of the vehicles fuse block.
Another challenge is noise generated by the car itself. One thing that could be happening if
another operator reports a variable high-pitched whine on the audio from your mobile
transmitter is that noise on the vehicles electrical system is being transmitted along
with your speech audio. (T4A12)
The alternator is often the culprit. The alternator is the source of a high-pitched whine
that varies with engine speed in a mobile transceivers receive audio. (T4A10) Should this
be a problem, there are Yilters that you can install to mitigate the alternator whine. One
thing that would reduce ignition interference to a receiver is to turn on the noise blanker.
(T4B05)

30

Operating controls: tuning, use of filters, squelch function, AGC,


repeater offset, memory channels
To properly operate a transceiver, you need to know how to use the controls. Perhaps the
most important transmitter control is microphone gain. If a transmitter is operated with
the microphone gain set too high, the output signal might become distorted. (T4B01)
You also need to know how to set the operating frequency of your transceiver. The keypad
or VFO knob can be used to enter the operating frequency on a modern transceiver.
(T4B02) A way to enable quick access to a favorite frequency on your transceiver is to store
the frequency in a memory channel. (T4B04)
A common receiver control on VHF/UHF transceivers is the squelch control. The purpose of
the squelch control on a transceiver is to mute receiver output noise when no signal is
being received. (T4B03) If set too high, then you will not be able to hear low-level signals.
Another common setting on VHF/UHF transceivers is the offset frequency. This is especially
important when operating repeaters. The common meaning of the term repeater offset is
the difference between the repeaters transmit and receive frequencies. (T4B11)
A common receiver control on HF transceivers is the RIT control. The term RIT means
Receiver Incremental Tuning. (T4B07) The receiver RIT or clariUier are controls that
could be used if the voice pitch of a single-sideband signal seems too high or low. (T4B06)
Another common control on a receiver is the automatic gain control, or AGC. Its function is
to keep received audio relatively constant. (T4B12) This is important because HF signal
strengths can vary widely. and that can cause audio levels to vary widely as well.
HF transceivers are often equipped with a variety of different Yilters. The advantage of
having multiple receive bandwidth choices on a multimode transceiver is that it permits
noise or interference reduction by selecting a bandwidth matching the mode.
(T4B08) For example, 2400 Hz is an appropriate receive Yilter to select in order to
minimize noise and interference for SSB reception. (T4B09) 500 Hz is an appropriate
receive Yilter to select in order to minimize noise and interference for CW reception.
(T4B10)
A common transmitter control is push-to-talk, or PTT. The push to talk function is the
function which switches between receive and transmit. (T7A07) Most of the time PTT
refers to an actual switch on the microphone that an operator must push to begin
transmitting, but it also refers to the name of a signal line on a transceivers accessory
socket that can be used to automatically switch a transceiver into transmit mode.

31

Station equipment
Receivers, transmitters, transceivers, modulation, transverters, low
power and weak signal operation, transmit and receive amplifiers
In the early days of radio, amateur radio operators used separate receivers and transmitter
units. Nowadays, however, most use radios called transceivers. A transceiver is a unit
combining the functions of a transmitter and a receiver. (T7A02)
There are many different types of transceivers. A multi-mode VHF transceiver is the type
of device that is most useful for VHF weak-signal communication. (T7A09) Instead of
purchasing a multi-mode VHF transceiver, many amateurs use a transverter to convert the
signals from their HF transceiver to the VHF, UHF, and even microwave bands. For example,
a device that would take the output of a low-powered 28 MHz SSB exciter and produces a
222 MHz output signal is a transverter. (T7A06)
Many, if not most, new amateurs by a hand-held transceiver, usually called an HT, as their
Yirst transceiver. One disadvantage of using a hand-held transceiver is that the maximum
output power is generally only 5 W, and because of this, they have limited range. To
increase the low-power output of a handheld transceiver, and therefore its, range, you can
use an RF power ampliUier. (T7A10)
When talking about a transceivers speciYications, we still refer to its receiver and
transmitter. The two most important speciYications for a receiver are sensitivity and
selectivity. Sensitivity is the term that describes the ability of a receiver to detect the
presence of a signal. (T7A01) The term that describes the ability of a receiver to
discriminate between multiple signals is selectivity. (T7A04)
To improve the sensitivity of a receiver, you can use an RF preampliYier. An RF preampliYier
is installed between the antenna and receiver. (T7A11)
Most HF transceivers have some version of a superheterodyne receiver. In a
superheterodyne receiver, we Yirst convert an incoming radio signal from its frequency to
an intermediate frequency, or IF. The circuit that does this is the mixer. A mixer is used to
convert a radio signal from one frequency to another. (T7A03)
When transmitting, we want to generate an RF signal with a speciYic frequency. To do that,
we use an oscillator. Oscillator is the name of a circuit that generates a signal of a desired
frequency. (T7A05)
To transmit a voice or data signal, we have to combine an audio frequency signal from the
microphone with the RF carrier signal generated by the transmitter. Modulation is the
term that describes combining speech with an RF carrier signal. (T7A08) Modulators use a
type of mixer circuit to accomplish this process.

32

Common transmitter and receiver problems: symptoms of overload


and overdrive, distortion, causes of interference, interference and
consumer electronics, part 15 devices, over and under modulation,
RF feedback, off frequency signals, fading and noise, problems with
digital communications interfaces
Since Murphys Lawthe law that states if anything can go wrong, it willapplies to
amateur radio as much as it does to any other pursuit, at some point you will have to deal
with problems. These may include overload, distortion, feedback, and interference.
Lets Yirst consider interference. All of these choices are correct when talking about
causes of radio frequency interference (T7B03):
fundamental overload
harmonics
spurious emissions.
Any of these could cause interference to a TV set or radio, and you will want to take steps to
Yind and eliminate that interference. If someone tells you that your stations transmissions
are interfering with their radio or TV reception, you should Yirst make sure that your
station is functioning properly and that it does not cause interference to your own
radio or television when it is tuned to the same channel or frequency. (T7B06)
While its not very likely that your amateur radio station will interfere with a neighbors
cable TV service, it can sometimes occur. The Yirst step to resolve cable TV interference
from your ham radio transmission is to be sure all TV coaxial connectors are installed
properly. (T7B12)
Your amateur radio station may interfere with a nearby radio receiver if your signal is so
strong that the receiver cannot reject the signal even though your signal is not on the
frequency to which the receiver is tuned. When a receiver is unable to reject strong
signals outside the AM or FM band, it can cause a broadcast AM or FM radio to receive an
amateur radio transmission unintentionally. (T7B02) One way to reduce or eliminate the
overloading of a non-amateur radio or TV receiver by an amateur signal is to block the
amateur signal with a Uilter at the antenna input of the affected receiver. (T7B05)
Another device that often experiences interference from amateur radio stations is the
telephone. The telephone wires act as antenna and the telephone itself demodulates the
signal. One way to reduce or eliminate interference by an amateur transmitter to a nearby
telephone is to install an RF Uilter at the telephone. (T7B04)
All of these choices are correct when considering what may be useful in correcting a
radio frequency interference problem (T7B07):
Snap-on ferrite chokes
Low-pass and high-pass Yilters
Band-reject and band-pass Yilters

33

Interference works both ways. Your neighbors may have wireless devices, sometimes called
Part 15 devices, that can interfere with your station. A Part 15 device is an unlicensed
device that may emit low powered radio signals on frequencies used by a licensed
service. (T7B09) All of these choices are correct when considering what you should do if
something in a neighbors home is causing harmful interference to your amateur station
(T7B08):
Work with your neighbor to identify the offending device
Politely inform your neighbor about the rules that require him to stop using the device if
it causes interference
Check your station and make sure it meets the standards of good amateur practice
Perhaps the most common problem that amateur radio operators have is distorted or noisy
audio when transmitting. There are many reasons for poor audio. All of these choices are
correct if you receive a report that your audio signal through the repeater is distorted or
unintelligible (T7B10):
Your transmitter may be slightly off frequency
Your batteries may be running low
You could be in a bad location
Reports of garbled, distorted, or unintelligible transmissions is a symptom of RF
feedback in a transmitter or transceiver. (T7B11) Sometimes, garbled or distorted audio
when operating FM is the result of over-deviation. Talk farther away from the
microphone is one thing you can do if you are told your FM handheld or mobile
transceiver is over-deviating. (T7B01)

34

Basic repair and testing: soldering; using basic test instruments;


connecting a voltmeter, ammeter, or ohmmeter
The most common test instrument in an amateur radio shack is the multimeter.
Multimeters combine into a single instrument the functions of a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and
ammeter. Voltage and resistance are two measurements commonly made using a
multimeter. (T7D07)
You use a voltmeter to measure electric potential or electromotive force. (T7D01) The
correct way to connect a voltmeter to a circuit is in parallel with the circuit. (T7D02)
When measuring high voltages with a voltmeter, one precaution you should take is to
ensure that the voltmeter and leads are rated for use at the voltages to be measured.
(T7D12)
An ohmmeter is the instrument used to measure resistance. (T7D05) When measuring
circuit resistance with an ohmmeter ensure that the circuit is not powered. (T7D11)
Attempting to measure voltage when using the resistance setting might damage a
multimeter. (T7D06) What is probably happening when an ohmmeter, connected across a
circuit, initially indicates a low resistance and then shows increasing resistance with time is
that the circuit contains a large capacitor. (T7D10)
An ammeter is the instrument used to measure electric current. (T7D04) An ammeter is
usually connected to a circuit in series with the circuit. (T7D03)
In addition to knowing how to make electrical measurements, knowing how to solder is an
essential skill for amateur radio operators. Rosin-core solder is best for radio and
electronic use. (T7D08) A grainy or dull surface is the characteristic appearance of a
cold solder joint. (T7D09)

35

Operating Procedures
FM Operation
Once they get their licenses, most Technicians purchase a VHF/UHF FM transceiver. This
type of radio allows them to use repeaters and participate in public-service events.
A repeater station is the type of amateur station that simultaneously retransmits the
signal of another amateur station on a different channel or channels. (T1F09) Auxiliary,
repeater, or space stations amateur stations can automatically retransmit the signals of
other amateur stations. (T1D07)
To use repeaters, you need to know how to set up your radio. Repeaters receive on one
frequency and transmit on another. You program your radio so that it receives on the
repeaters transmit frequency and transmits on the repeaters receive frequency.
The difference between the transmit frequency and receive frequency is called the repeater
frequency offset. Plus or minus 600 kHz is the most common repeater frequency offset in
the 2 meter band. (T2A01) Plus or minus 5 MHz is a common repeater frequency offset in
the 70 cm band. (T2A03)
Repeater operation is called duplex operation because youre transmitting and receiving on
two different frequencies. When the stations can communicate directly without using a
repeater, you should consider communicating via simplex rather than a repeater. (T2B12)
Simplex communication is the term used to describe an amateur station that is
transmitting and receiving on the same frequency. (T2B01)
To help amateurs operating simplex Yind one another, frequencies on each band have been
set aside as national calling frequencies. 446.000 MHz is the national calling frequency
for FM simplex operations in the 70 cm band. (T2A02) 146.52 MHz is the national calling
frequency for FM simplex operation in the 2 m band.
Because repeaters often operate in environments where there is a lot of interference they
are programmed not to operate unless the station they are receiving is also transmitting a
sub- audible tone of a speciYic frequency. These tones are sometimes called PL (short for
private line) tones or CTCSS (short for continuous tone-coded squelch system) tones.
CTCSS is the term used to describe the use of a sub-audible tone transmitted with normal
voice audio to open the squelch of a receiver. (T2B02) If your radio has not been
programmed to transmit the proper sub-audible tone when you transmit, the repeater will
not repeat your transmission.
All of these choices are correct when talking about common problems that might cause
you to be able to hear but not access a repeater even when transmitting with the proper
offset: (T2B04)
The repeater receiver requires audio tone burst for access
The repeater receiver requires a CTCSS tone for access
The repeater receiver may require a DCS tone sequence for access
One of the controls on a VHF/UHF transceiver is the squelch control. Carrier squelch is the
term that describes the muting of receiver audio controlled solely by the presence or
36

absence of an RF signal. (T2B03) You can set this control so that you only get an audio
output when receiving a signal over a set threshold level.
Microphone gain is also an important control. The reason for this is that the amplitude of
the modulating signal determines the amount of deviation of an FM signal. (T2B05) When
the deviation of an FM transmitter is increased, its signal occupies more bandwidth.
(T2B06) One thing that could cause your FM signal to interfere with stations on nearby
frequencies is that you have set your microphone gain too high, causing over-deviation.
(T2B07)
In addition to knowing how to set the controls of your radio, you need to know the protocol
for making contacts. First, when using a repeater, it is rare to hear stations calling CQ. In
place of CQ, say your call sign to indicate that you are listening on a repeater. (T2A09) An
appropriate way to call another station on a repeater if you know the other station's call
sign is to say the station's call sign then identify with your call sign. (T2A04)

37

HF Operation
On the HF bands, when you want to contact another station, you call CQ. That is to say, you
would say something like, CQ CQ CQ. This is KB6NU. The meaning of the procedural signal
CQ is calling any station. (T2A08) All of these choices are correct when choosing an
operating frequency for calling CQ (T2A12):
Listen Yirst to be sure that no one else is using the frequency
Ask if the frequency is in use
Make sure you are in your assigned band
When responding to a call of CQ, you should transmit the other stations call sign
followed by your call sign. (T2A05) For example, if W8JNZ heard my call and wanted to
talk to me, he would reply, KB6NU this is W8JNZ. Over. Then, I would return the call, and
our contact would begin.
Its important to always identify your station, even when only performing tests. An amateur
operator must properly identify the transmitting station when making on-air
transmissions to test equipment or antennas. (T2A06) When making a test transmission,
station identiUication is required at least every ten minutes during the test and at the
end. (T2A07)
As a technician, you will be able to operate Morse Code on certain portions of the 80 m, 40
m, 15 m, and 10 m bands. To shorten the number of characters sent during a CW contact,
amateurs often use three-letter combinations called Q-signals. QRM is the Q signal used
to indicate that you are receiving interference from other stations. (T2B10) The Q signal
used to indicate that you are changing frequency is QSY. (T2B11)

38

General Guidelines
FCC rules specify broadly where amateur radio operators have operating privileges, but are
not very detailed. Band plans take this one step further, suggesting where amateurs should
use certain modes. While consulting a band plan before operating is a good idea, realize
that a band plan is a voluntary guideline for using different modes or activities within
an amateur band. (T2A10)
Regarding power levels used in the amateur bands under normal, non-distress
circumstances, the FCC rules state that, while not exceeding the maximum power
permitted on a given band, use the minimum power necessary to carry out the
desired communication. (T2A11) So, while you are authorized to use up to 1,500 W
output power on VHF and above (200W on HF), you really should only use that much
power when you really need it.
The basics of good operation include keeping your signals clean and avoid interference to
other stations. When two stations transmitting on the same frequency interfere with each
other, common courtesy should prevail, but no one has absolute right to an amateur
frequency. (T2B08)
When identifying your station when using phone, use of a phonetic alphabet is
encouraged by the FCC. (T2B09) Most hams around the world understand and use the
NATO, or ITU phonetic alphabet. Learn it and use it.

39

Public service: emergency and non-emergency operations,


applicability of FCC rules, RACES and ARES, net and traffic
procedures, emergency restrictions
One of the reasons amateur radio exists at all is that ham radio operators are uniquely set
up to provide emergency and public-service communications. As a result, many hams
consider it an obligation to be prepared to help out when called upon to do so. This includes
having the proper equipment and knowing the proper operating procedures.
There are two organizations that provide emergency communications: the Radio Amateur
Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). The
thing that both RACES and ARES have in common is that both organizations may provide
communications during emergencies. (T2C04) The Amateur Radio Emergency Service
(ARES) is a group of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their
qualiUications and equipment for communications duty in the public service. (T2C12)
All of these choices are correct when describing the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency
Service (RACES) (T2C05):
A radio service using amateur frequencies for emergency management or civil defense
communications
A radio service using amateur stations for emergency management or civil defense
communications
An emergency service using amateur operators certiYied by a civil defense organization as
being enrolled in that organization
When an emergency occurs, its common for amateur radio operators to form a network or
net to facilitate emergency communications. The net is led by the net control station,
whose job it is to make sure that messages are passed in an efYicient and timely manner.
Stations other than the net control station are said to check into the net. An accepted
practice for an amateur operator who has checked into an emergency trafYic net is to
remain on frequency without transmitting until asked to do so by the net control
station. (T2C07) There are, however, times when a station may need to get the immediate
attention of the net control station. If this is the case, an accepted practice to get the
immediate attention of a net control station when reporting an emergency is to begin your
transmission by saying "Priority" or "Emergency" followed by your call sign. (T2C06)
The term for messages passed between stations in an emergency net is trafYic, and the
process of passing messages to and from amateur radio stations is called handling trafYic.
Message trafYic may be formal or informal. A characteristic of good emergency trafYic
handling is passing messages exactly as received. (T2C08) To insure that voice message
trafYic containing proper names and unusual words are copied correctly by the receiving
station, such words and terms should be spelled out using a standard phonetic
alphabet. (T2C03)
Formal trafYic messages consists of four parts: preamble, address, text, signature. The
preamble in a formal trafYic message is the information needed to track the message as
it passes through the amateur radio trafUic handling system. (T2C10) Part of the
preamble is the check. The check is a count of the number of words or word
equivalents in the text portion of the message. (T2C11) The address is the name and
40

address of the intended recipient, the text is the message itself, and the signature is the part
of the message that identiYies the originator of the message.
An important thing to remember is that FCC rules always apply to the operation of an
amateur station. (T2C01) Amateur station control operators are permitted to operate
outside the frequency privileges of their license class only if necessary in situations
involving the immediate safety of human life or protection of property. (T2C09)
In an emergency situation, amateur radio operators often Yind themselves using battery
power. It is, therefore, important to keep batteries charged and ready to go. One way to
recharge a 12-volt lead-acid station battery if the commercial power is out is to connect
the battery in parallel with a vehicles battery and run the engine. (T2C02)

41

Amateur satellite operation, Doppler shift, basic orbits, operating


protocols, control operator, transmitter power considerations,
satellite tracking, digital modes
As a Technician Class licensee, you can make contacts via amateur radio satellites. Any
amateur whose license privileges allow them to transmit on the satellite uplink
frequency may be the control operator of a station communicating through an amateur
satellite or space station. (T8B01)
Amateur satellites are basically repeaters in space. As such they have an uplink frequency,
which is the frequency on which you transmit and the satellite receives, and a downlink
frequency, on which the satellite transmits and you receive. As with other transmissions,
the minimum amount of power needed to complete the contact should be used on the
uplink frequency of an amateur satellite or space station. (T8B02)
Often, the uplink frequency and downlink frequency are in different amateur bands. For
example, when a satellite is operating in mode U/V, the satellite uplink is in the 70 cm
band and the downlink is in the 2 meter band. (T8B08) The 70 cm band is in the UHF
portion of the spectrum, while the 2 meter band is in the VHF portion of the spectrum.
The International Space Station often has amateur radio operators on board. Any amateur
holding a Technician or higher class license may make contact with an amateur station
on the International Space Station using 2 meter and 70 cm band amateur radio
frequencies. (T8B04) Like most amateur satellites, the Space Station is in low earth orbit.
When used to describe an amateur satellite, the initials LEO means that the satellite is in a
Low Earth Orbit. (T8B10)
Amateur satellites are often equipped with beacons. A satellite beacon is a transmission
from a space station that contains information about a satellite. (T8B05) FM Packet is
a commonly used method of sending signals to and from a digital satellite. (T8B11)
How do you know when you are able to communicate via an amateur satellite? A satellite
tracking program can be used to determine the time period during which an amateur
satellite or space station can be accessed. (T8B03) The Keplerian elements are inputs to a
satellite tracking program. (T8B06)
Two problems that you must deal with when communicating via satellite is Doppler shift
and spin fading. Doppler shift is an observed change in signal frequency caused by
relative motion between the satellite and the earth station. (T8B07) Rotation of the
satellite and its antennas causes spin fading of satellite signals. (T8B09)

42

Operating activities: radio direction finding, radio control, contests,


linking over the Internet, grid locators
There are many different ways to have fun with amateur radio. Contesting, for example, is a
popular operating activity that involves contacting as many stations as possible during a
speciYied period of time. (T8C03) When contacting another station in a radio contest, a
good procedure is to send only the minimum information needed for proper
identiUication and the contest exchange. (T8C04)
In VHF/UHF contests, stations often send each other their grid locators. A grid locator is a
letter-number designator assigned to a geographic location. (T8C05)
One fun activity that is very practical is radio direction Yinding. You would use radio
direction Yinding equipment and skills to participate in a hidden transmitter hunt,
sometimes called a fox hunt. In addition to participating in this kind of contest, radio
direction Uinding is one of the methods used to locate sources of noise interference or
jamming. (T8C01) A directional antenna would be useful for a hidden transmitter hunt.
(T8C02)
Some amateurs get licensed because they like to build and operate radio-controlled models,
including boats, planes, and automobiles. The maximum power allowed when transmitting
telecommand signals to radio controlled models is 1 watt. (T8C07) In place of on-air
station identiYication when sending signals to a radio control model using amateur
frequencies, a label indicating the licensees name, call sign and address must be
afUixed to the transmitter.(T8C08)
If the only radios that you have are VHF or UHF radios, you might want to look into
EchoLink and the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP). The Internet Radio Linking Project
(IRLP) is a technique to connect amateur radio systems, such as repeaters, via the
Internet using Voice Over Internet Protocol. (T8C13) Voice Over Internet Protocol
(VoIP), as used in amateur radio, is a method of delivering voice communications over
the Internet using digital techniques. (T8C12)
Stations that connect to EchoLink or IRLP are called nodes. One way to obtain a list of active
nodes that use VoIP is from a repeater directory. (T8C09) You access an IRLP node by
using DTMF signals. (T8C06) To select a speciYic IRLP node when using a portable
transceiver, use the keypad to transmit the IRLP node ID. (T8C10)
Sometimes nodes are also called gateways. A gateway is the name given to an amateur
radio station that is used to connect other amateur stations to the Internet. (T8C11)

43

FCC Rules, descriptions and definitions for the


Amateur Radio Service, operator and station license
responsibilities
Amateur Radio Service: purpose and permissible use of the Amateur
Radio Service, operator/primary station license grant, where FCC
rules are codified, basis and purpose of FCC rules, meanings of basic
terms used in FCC rules, interference, spectrum management
The Amateur Radio Service is a service administered by the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC). The FCC is the agency that regulates and enforces the rules for the
Amateur Radio Service in the United States. (T1A02) Part 97 is the part of the FCC
regulations that contains the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service. (T1A03)
Part 97.1 lists Yive purposes for the existence of amateur radio. The Yirst is recognition of
its usefulness in providing emergency and public-service communications. My favorite,
enhancing international goodwill is another purpose of the Amateur Radio Service rules
and regulations as deYined by the FCC. (T1A05)
The rules also cite the use of amateur radio as a way to help people become better
technicians and operators. Advancing skills in the technical and communication phases
of the radio art is a purpose of the Amateur Radio Service as stated in the FCC rules and
regulations. (T1A01) Allowing a person to conduct radio experiments and to
communicate with other licensed hams around the world is a permissible use of the
Amateur Radio Service. (T1A12)
Part 97 also deYines terms and concepts that every amateur radio operator needs to know.
For example, the FCC Part 97 deYinition of an amateur station is a station in the Amateur
Radio Service consisting of the apparatus necessary for carrying on radio
communications. (T1A10)
One of the most important concepts in amateur radio is that of harmful interference. The
FCC deYinition of harmful interference is that which seriously degrades, obstructs, or
repeatedly interrupts a radio communication service operating in accordance with
the Radio Regulations. (T1A04) At no time is willful interference to other amateur radio
stations permitted. (T1A11)
The Radionavigation Service is one of the services that are protected from interference by
amateur signals under all circumstances. (T1A06) If you are operating on the 23 cm band
and learn that you are interfering with a radiolocation station outside the United States, you
must stop operating or take steps to eliminate the harmful interference. (T1A14)
The FCC Part 97 deYinition of telemetry is a one-way transmission of measurements at a
distance from the measuring instrument. (T1A07) Transmitting telemetry is one of the
very few examples of a one-way amateur communication. Another is sending
telecommands, usually to a satellite or radio-control model. The FCC Part 97 deYinition of

44

telecommand is a one-way transmission to initiate, modify or terminate functions of a


device at a distance. (T1A13)
The Frequency Coordinator is the entity that recommends transmit/receive channels and
other parameters for auxiliary and repeater stations. (T1A08) Amateur operators in a
local or regional area whose stations are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations
select a Frequency Coordinator. (T1A09)

45

Authorized frequencies: frequency allocations, ITU regions, emission


modes, restricted sub-bands, spectrum sharing, transmissions near
band edges
The ITU is a United Nations agency for information and communication technology
issues.(T1B01) There are three ITU regions. North American amateur stations are located
in ITU region 2.
One of the reasons that it is important to know about the ITU zones is that different zones
often have different frequency assignments. For example, the frequency assignments for
some U.S. Territories are different from those in the 50 U.S. States because some U. S.
Territories are located in ITU regions other than region 2. (T1B02) Similarly, frequency
assignments for U.S. stations operating maritime mobile are not the same everywhere in
the world because amateur frequency assignments can vary among the three ITU
regions. (T1B12)
Because operation outside of the amateur radio bands is a serious offense, it is important to
know about the frequencies and bands that amateur radio operators can use:
52.525 MHz is a frequency within the 6 meter band. (T1B03)
The 2 meter band is the amateur band are you using when your station is transmitting
on 146.52 MHz. (T1B04)
443.350 MHz is a 70 cm frequency authorized to a Technician Class license holder
operating in ITU Region 2. (T1B05)
1296 MHz is a 23 cm frequency authorized to a Technician Class licensee. (T1B06)
1.25 meter band is the amateur band you are using if you are transmitting on 223.50
MHz. (T1B07)
All of these choices are correct when thinking about why you should not set your
transmit frequency to be exactly at the edge of an amateur band or sub-band (T1B09):
To allow for calibration error in the transmitter frequency display
So that modulation sidebands do not extend beyond the band edge
To allow for transmitter frequency drift
In addition to deYining which frequencies are available to amateur radio operators, the FCC
also deYines sub-bands for various modes. For example, CW only is the emission mode
permitted in the mode-restricted sub-bands at 50.0 to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 to 144.1 MHz
(T1B11). The 6 meter, 2 meter, and 1.25 meter bands are the bands available to
Technician Class operators that have mode-restricted sub-bands (T1B10). The use of SSB
phone in amateur bands above 50 MHz is permitted in at least some portion of all the
amateur bands above 50 MHz. (T2B13)
Amateur radio operators share some bands with users from other services. Sometimes,
amateurs are the primary users, such as the 2m band, but sometimes amateur radio
operators are secondary users. One result of the fact that the amateur service is secondary
in some portions of the 70 cm band is that U.S. amateurs may Uind non-amateur stations
in the bands, and must avoid interfering with them. (T1B08) [97.303]

46

Operator licensing: operator classes; sequential, special event, and


vanity call sign systems; international communications; reciprocal
operation; station license and licensee; places where the amateur
service is regulated by the FCC; name and address on FCC license
database; license term; renewal; grace period
Technician, General, Amateur Extra are the license classes for which new licenses are
currently available from the FCC. (T1C13) You may operate a transmitter on an amateur
service frequency after you pass the examination required for your Yirst amateur radio
license as soon as your name and call sign appear in the FCCs ULS database (T1C10).
Ten years is the normal term for an FCC-issued primary station/operator amateur
radiolicense grant (T1C08).
When the FCC issues an amateur radio operator license, it also issues a station license. The
call sign of that station consists of one or two letters, followed by a number and then one,
two, or three letters. W3ABC is an example of a valid US amateur radio station call sign
(T1C02).
After you pass the test, the FCC will assign you a call sign sequentially from the pool of
available call signs. If you do not like this call sign, you can apply for a vanity call sign. Any
licensed amateur may select a desired call sign under the vanity call sign rules. (T1C12)
The call sign you select must not only be available, it must have an appropriate format for
the class of license you hold. Extra class licensees are the only ones who may hold 1x2 or
2x1 call signs. K1XXX is, therefore, a vanity call sign which a Technician class amateur
operator might select if available. (T1C05) A Technician class amateur radio operator may
not choose the call signs KA1X or W1XX.
Two years is the grace period following the expiration of an amateur license within which
the license may be renewed. (T1C09) If you dont renew your license before it expires, or
within the two-year grace period, you will have to take the test again to get a new amateur
radio license. If your license has expired and is still within the allowable grace period,
transmitting is not allowed until the ULS database shows that the license has been
renewed (T1C11).
Amateurs that set up stations at special events, such as a community fair or fundraising
event, can request a special call sign speciYically for that event. A special event call sign is
the type of call sign that has a single letter in both the preYix and sufYix (T1C01). An example
of a special event call sign is W8P.
Clubs may apply for a station license for their club station. The club may even apply for a
vanity call sign. At least 4 persons are required to be members of a club for a club station
license to be issued by the FCC. (T1F12) Only the person named as trustee on the club
station license grant may select a vanity call sign for a club station. (T1C14)
When you get your Yirst license, you must give the examiners a mailing address. Should you
move, you must inform the FCC of your new mailing address. Revocation of the station
license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the

47

FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct mailing
address (T1C07).
You are allowed to operate your amateur station in a foreign country when the foreign
country authorizes it (T1C04). Sometimes countries have reciprocal licensing agreements,
and you can operate from that country without any speciYic authorization. For example, I
could operate my station in Germany by simply using the call sign DL/KB6NU. There are
restrictions on your operating privileges, depending on the country from which you plan to
operate, and you should investigate these before you get on the air.
You can also operate your station while aboard a ship in international waters. An FCC-
licensed amateur station may transmit from any vessel or craft located in international
waters and documented or registered in the United States, in addition to places where
the FCC regulates communications (T1C06).

48

Authorized and prohibited transmission: communications with other


countries, music, exchange of information with other services,
indecent language, compensation for use of station, retransmission
of other amateur signals, codes and ciphers, sale of equipment,
unidentified transmissions, broadcasting
As a licensed radio amateur, its important to know what you can and cant do on the air. For
example, any language that is considered obscene or indecent is prohibited. (T1D06). For
the most part, transmitting music is also prohibited. The only time an amateur station is
authorized to transmit music is when incidental to an authorized retransmission of
manned spacecraft communications (T1D04).
Transmitting any codes whose speciYications are not published or well-known is
prohibited. The transmission of codes or ciphers that hide the meaning of a message
transmitted by an amateur station is allowed only when transmitting control commands
to space stations or radio control craft (T1D03).
Amateur radio operators are only allowed to communicate with other amateur radio
stations, except in speciYic instances. For example, in an emergency, you are allowed to
communicate with stations in other radio services. Another example is during the special
event called Armed Forces Day Communications Test. An FCC-licensed amateur station may
exchange messages with a U.S. military station during an Armed Forces Day
Communications Test (T1D02).
FCC-licensed amateur stations are prohibited from exchanging communications with any
country whose administration has notiUied the ITU that it objects to such
communications. (T1D01) Currently, there are no countries that U.S. amateurs are
prohibited from contacting.
Amateur radio operators may not use their stations to make money, except in some very
special circumstances. For example, the control operator of an amateur station may receive
compensation for operating the station only when the communication is incidental to
classroom instruction at an educational institution (T1D08). Amateur radio operators
may use their stations to notify other amateurs of the availability of equipment for sale or
trade, but only when the equipment is normally used in an amateur station and such
activity is not conducted on a regular basis (T1D05).
All amateur communications must be station to station. That is to say, amateur radio
operators may not broadcast. The term broadcasting in the FCC rules for the amateur
services means transmissions intended for reception by the general public (T1D10).
Only when transmitting code practice, information bulletins, or transmissions
necessary to provide emergency communications may an amateur radio station engage
in broadcasting. (T1D12)
Amateur stations are authorized to transmit signals related to broadcasting, program
production, or news gathering, assuming no other means is available, only where such
communications directly relate to the immediate safety of human life or protection
of property. (T1D09).
49

So, what is allowed? Communications incidental to the purposes of the amateur


service and remarks of a personal character are the types of international
communications that are permitted to an FCC-licensed amateur station (T1C03).

50

Control operator and control types: control operator required,


eligibility, designation of control operator, privileges and duties,
control point, local, automatic and remote control, location of control
operator
An important concept in amateur radio is the control operator. Only a person for whom
an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears in the FCC database or
who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation is eligible to be the control operator of
an amateur station. (T1E02) The FCC presumes the station licensee to be the control
operator of an amateur station, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station
records. (T1E11)
An amateur station is never permitted to transmit without a control operator. (T1E01) The
station licensee must designate the station control operator. (T1E03) When the control
operator is not the station licensee, the control operator and the station licensee are
equally responsible for the proper operation of the station. (T1E07) The control
operator of the originating station is accountable should a repeater inadvertently
retransmit communications that violate the FCC rules. (T1F10)
The class of operator license held by the control operator determines the transmitting
privileges of an amateur station. (T1E04) At no time, under normal circumstances, may a
Technician Class licensee be the control operator of a station operating in an exclusive Extra
Class operator segment of the amateur bands. (T1E12)
Two related concepts are the control type and control point. An amateur station control
point is the location at which the control operator function is performed. (T1E05)
Local control is the type of control being used when transmitting using a handheld radio.
(T1E09) Operating the station over the Internet is an example of remote control as
deYined in Part 97. (T1E10) Repeater operation is an example of automatic control.
(T1E08) APRS network digipeaters operate under automatic control. (T1E06)

51

Station identification, repeaters, third party communications, club


stations, FCC inspection
Proper station identiYication is also very important. The basic rule is that an amateur
station is required to transmit its assigned call sign at least every 10 minutes during and
at the end of a communication. (T1F03) The only time an amateur station may transmit
without identifying is when transmitting signals to control a model craft. (T1D11)
The English language is the only acceptable language for use for station identiYication
when operating in a phone sub-band. (T1F04) Sending the call sign using CW or phone
emission is the required method of call sign identiYication for a station transmitting phone
signals. (T1F05)
For some types of operations, using a tactical call is allowed. A tactical call describes the
function of the station or the location of a station. For example, a tactical call is the type of
identiYication being used when identifying a station on the air as Race
Headquarters. (T1F01) When using tactical identiYiers such as Race Headquarters during
a community service net operation, your station must transmit the stations FCC-assigned
call sign at the end of each communication and every ten minutes during a
communication. (T1F02)
When operating mobile or portable, or when you wish to note something about your
station, you may use a self-assigned call sign indicator, such as /3, mobile, or QRP. All
of these choices are correct when choosing formats for self-assigned indicators that are
acceptable when identifying using a phone transmission. (T1F06)
KL7CC stroke W3
KL7CC slant W3
KL7CC slash W3
Indicators required by the FCC to be transmitted after a station call sign include /KT, /AE
or /AG when using new license privileges earned by CSCE while waiting for an
upgrade to a previously issued license to appear in the FCC license database. (T1F08)
Third-party communications are communications on behalf of someone who is not the
station licensee. For example, if you have a friend over to your house and let him or her talk
on your radio, that is a third-party communication.
These are entirely legal within the United States, but there are some restrictions when you
are in contact with an amateur station in a foreign country. The FCC rules authorize the
transmission of non-emergency, third party communications to any station whose
government permits such communications.(T1F11) A non-licensed person is allowed to
speak to a foreign station using a station under the control of a Technician Class control
operator only if the foreign station is one with which the U.S. has a third party
agreement. (T1F07)
Finallyand I do mean Yinallythe station licensee must make the station and its records
available for FCC inspection any time upon request by an FCC representative. (T1F13)
Theyre not going to knock on your door at 3 a.m. some morning to take a look at your
shack, but one of your obligations as a licensee is to make your station and your records
available when requested to do so.
52

About the Author


I have been a ham radio operator since 1971 and a radio enthusiast as long as I can
remember. In addition to being an active CW operator on the HF bands:
I blog about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com, one of the leading amateur radio blogs on the
Internet.
I have also written study guides for the General Class and Extra Class exams. You can Yind
the No-Nonsense General Class License Study Guide and the No-Nonsense Extra Class
License Study Guide in PDF, Nook (ePub) and Kindle (Mobipocket) formats on my website
at http://www.kb6nu.com/tech-manual.
I am the author of 21 Things to Do With your Amateur Radio License, an e-book for those
who have been recently licensed or just getting back into the hobby. You can Yind it on
Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
I send out a monthly column to more than 300 amateur radio clubs in North America for
publication in their newsletters.
I am the station manager for WA2HOM (http://www.wa2hom.org), the amateur radio
station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (http://www.aahom.org).
I teach amateur radio classes around the state of Michigan.
I serve as the ARRL Michigan Section Training Manager and conduct amateur radio
leadership workshops for amateur radio club leaders in Michigan.
You can contact me by sending e-mail to cwgeek@kb6nu.com. If you have comments or
question about any of the stuff in this book, I hope you will do so.
73!
Dan, KB6NU

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